Saturday, June 24, 2006

Passing On

Harriet, the 176 year old tortoise, died in Australia last night. I actually gasped when I read it in the paper. Just last month, I read about her in National Geographic. I shared everything I learned with my students: the fact that she was the oldest known living creature on the planet, her journey from the Galapagos to Australia, and that she may have been studied by Charles Darwin. My students passed her picture around the classroom twice and asked more than their typical 20 questions.

In there among all the bad news reported daily by the New York Times, I am saddest about the heart attack of an ill, ancient tortoise. I realize this is more than a little ridiculous, and possibly a result of too many Disney movies and an excessive love of animals in general.

There is something amazing about that life, though, no matter if you're saying to yourself now, "What the hell, it's just a tortoise." One hundred and seventy six years. And could never speak a word to tell us about it...

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